ZIMBABWE MUST COME UP WITH A DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

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Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube

First and foremost, it is important to admit that we have a crisis so that whoever comes on board to assist will have a clear picture of our situation. Such prolonged resistance will put us in trouble on how to deal with our problem. Let’s assume Zimbabwe is a project and how best can we handle the effectiveness of the project. To me the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra is typically good but I think the most ideal issue on board is , let’s admit that we have a crisis then call for resolutions to deal with the crisis.

By Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo.

What culminated to the current situation? We have corruption at hand, we have liquidity crunch, we have debts to deal with, we have a national budget before hand, we have creditors to deal with, hence forth we have no money and this is the honest truth we have as a nation. So I think we must deal with our issues collectively and put our heads together. For now propaganda is not ideal for our situation, hate speech, misrepresentation of facts should be done away with, reality speaks at the moment. Our country is slowly sliding into political and economic oblivion. We have a lion to deal with. Here is a beast before us, we have a crisis and we cannot continue folding our hands and say all is well when in  actual fact poverty is striking the whole nation. This article will deal with areas that can save our nation from total collapse.

Debt problem

We have a huge debt hanging on our foreheads. We have about 13 billion both domestic and local debt. To solve this, it is critical for the executive to admit that we cannot clear the debt, then join the debt relief strategy for those countries which can’t afford to deal with their debts. I think it would also be good for us a nation to receive a factual report on how we arrived on such figures. What led to such figures? The appetite for expenditure need to be dealt with. Even the international community may ask pertinent questions over such figures! Alas let me leave it there.

Budget deficit/ critical sectors

We have a huge budget deficit which can amount to over 1 billion. Our core problem which exists is our expenditure. Redirection of expenditure is critical. What is our priority as a nation? We had a previous budget of over 1.6 billion. What happened to arrears which led to such huge deficit? It means funds were diverted to wrong use. If funds were channelled towards critical sectors of the economy ( Development) then we would be having surplus budget. We have shortage of drugs, we have problems in the industry, tourism sector is under funded, mining sector is in problems. First and foremost let’s come up with a proper development agenda which addresses the budget question. It’s pointless to come up with an annual budget which can never be implemented or its pointless to read a budget in the August house were there are no funds. The honest truth is coffers and dry and we have adequacy of resources. For me our focal point should be let’s deal with expenditure problem, appetite for looting, corruption and the little we have let’s divert it towards redirection of expenditure towards critical sectors of the economy.

Agriculture Policy

In the past Agric used to contribute at least 60% towards the GDP of our country. Let’s have one man one farm policy. Let’s separate politics and Development. No time for free handouts. What the Government should do is to come up with a proper policy that address the issue of empowerment. Let’s share the national cake equal. Instead of giving free handouts, empower them, what is the Government going to get? What is the farmer going to get? Set aside farms for commercialisation, set aside farms for resettlement. What is our target? We cannot have a surplus of maize and have shortage of wheat? Let’s balance our crop rotation schemes. Who is doing this and that? This idea of handouts has destroyed our nation. It opens doors for looting and corruption. Let’s empower citizens. Everyone must get down to business and work. Policy makers and technocrats must work round the clock to produce quality documents for proper implementation.

Confidence

The honest truth there is no confidence on the ground. The role of the market is to shape the political and economic landscape of any given country. Once the market shrink then we are in trouble, no matter how much political muscles we have it will be difficult to deal with the problem. What led to this? This is what the President should be looking at? There is lack of confidence. People are afraid to put their money in banks, there is no trust. People can’t trust the system. So what the minister of Finance need to do is come up with consultation with policy makers , students, activists, politicians, business community, traders and academics and hear what they want. It’s not ideal to impose policies without proper and wider consultation and this will backfire.

Institutional reforms

The Executive has a huge task. We have the judiciary, executive and Parliament. These three arms of the state need proper reforms and adjustments in terms of expenditure. Labour laws should be introduced, and these laws must address the issue of the investor and investments. Before someone pours money into our economy here is some few questions the individual may ask: is my money safe? What are the laws at hand? Are there proper laws to protect my investments? Any guarantee of protection of assets and properties? The introduction of 2 % tax threshold was okay but what the minister should have done, he should gone through Parliament. Imagine one wakes up and introduce such a law without warning hazards? There is need for due diligence before applying such laws. Mthuli Ncube has good ideas, vibrant quite good but he needs wider consultation. Our economy is not bookish but you must read the mood on the ground. It is imperative. Our economic is socio- political, there is need for proper handling of such decisions.

Foreign Policy

We must come up with a proper foreign policy. What type of investors do we want? Have we done our research? Where is this investor coming from? Did the Government do enough research? Any legal and economic implications? What is Zimbabwe going to get? Are we not mortgaging our country to dubious investors? What are the current market trends before we make any resolutions or mega signing? Once a signature is put into place it will be difficult to erase it. That would require legal implications. So what exactly am I saying? Let’s come up with proper legal and economic framework that addresses economic obligations for our country to benefit economically.

Re- engagement plan

There is more to it than talking. Talking and implementation are two separate issues. International Community is interested in implementation of resolutions. Zimbabwe is one of the countries with best economic documents, but were are they? Were is STEM? Were is ESAP? Were is JUICE? Were is SMART? Where is BUILD? We are not doing our part. Zim Government must walk the talk. We must address the fundamentals as a matter of urgency. Let’s cut the expenditure, let’s deal with the problem of appetite for looting, corruption. We must eat what we kill then international community will come in with resources. Let’s respect the laws of the land . Let’s address the human rights issues. Moving around with a begging bowl is not enough, let’s implement What we write.

Widen the tax base

 I have issues with the current 2% tax threshold. What led to this kind of taxation? What is the Government’ s target? What is their priority. The events leading to the 2% tax threshold remains a mystery. This is what instil fear and leads to confidence issues. First and foremost citizens needs to know why such taxation laws are introduced. In other words there is need for wider consultation and make people understand why you are taxing them. On the same note, 97% of our economy is informal trading. So how then do you surpass the target? Are you targeting the right people? I thought the minister would introduce the informal tax law. It was going to be good. More than 4000 firms are not retaining tax to the treasury. What have you done about it as a Government? Mostly they are senior Government officials or the political elite

Political Dialogue

I think it’s high time Dialogue must resume. There is a vacuum which must be filled. There is need for people in the political consortium to meet and shake hands for progress sake. Economic and political agenda requires everyone on board. It’s prudent to intitate such and requires commitment. Our problems are more of political than economic. What should happen next? Swallow our pride, remove our political affiliations and resolve the impasse and move on as a nation.

Policy roundtable

It is important for Zimbabwe to come up with a policy round table meeting to address the inconvenience to policy matters. Policies normally scare investors away. No matter how good our policies can be or bad, the moment a policy is announced it scares everyone. So it would be ideal if a policy comes from the grassroots, and this will eradicate the mentality of fear and restore confidence.

Cutting Expenditure

Do away with issue of deputy Ministers. No need for deputy Ministers. The Minister can deal directly with principal directors and perm secs. Our size of Parliament is still big. No need. We need at least 100mps if not less. We don’t need a senate for what? Instead in the past ministers used to receive 3 cars, I would suggest that ministers must get at least one vehicle. Local industry should be promoted. Government should purchase vehicles from local firms to promote local talent. The huge civil service bill is not necessary. Its chewing a big chunk of our resources, instead Government can retire most personnel either in uniformed forces and education sector to cut costs. Reduce travel costs by making use of embassies abroad if there are foreign assignments. Travel allowances should be cut by 50%.

IMF monitoring& Staff program

We need that program urgently. To be more practical, IMF and World Bank will not lend us money until proper reforms are implemented. So we need to correct the appetite for expenditure by bringing IMF staff monitoring program on board. Zambia is doing well on this one. Let’s send some guys to Zambia and see how they have done it. We still have a long way to go. Funding is not going to be imminent. We need proper reforms in the financial sector. Zimra needs proper reforms. There is too much rot in the system. We need technology to detect leakages on our borders . We need revenue as a nation. We need explanations on were parallel markets created by semi political gods and cahoots .

To be continued

Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo writes in his personal capacity as an academic . ( Doctor of Philosophy -@ Women University of Africa) . He can be contacted at tinamuzala@gmail.com

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